Silicon is a light chemical element with both metallic and nonmetallic characteristics. In nature, silicon combines with oxygen and other elements to form silicates. Silicon, in the form of silicates, constitutes more than 25% of the Earth's crust. The United States has an abundance of silica deposits for the production of ferrosilicon and silicon metal. Silicon is used primarily in the form of ferrosilicon for deoxidation and as an alloying agent in the production of iron and steel. Several grades of ferrosilicon are produced and sold in the United States. Most of the ferrosilicon consumed domestically is either 50%- or 75%- grade material, the majority being the 50%-grade. Domestic ferrosilicon production accounts for almost all of U.S. reported consumption of ferrosilicon. Most ferrosilicon products are consumed by the iron and steel industries. Silicon metal is used primarily in the aluminum and chemical industries. The products sold to these industries vary considerably in their specifications. The silicon industry, from mining and smelting to refining and manufacturing, involves a wide spectrum of producers from large companies with a broad product line operating several plants to smaller producers operating a single plant or active in only one phase of the industry.
- Table 1.--Production of silvery pig iron, ferrosilicon and silicon metal in the United States
- Table 2.--Producer stocks of silvery pig iron, ferrosilicon and silicon metal in the United States
- Table 3.--U.S. exports and imports for consumption of ferrosilicon and silicon metal